Panerai began making watches in Florence, Italy back in 1860, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the firm produced its first wristwatch. By then its roots in Florence were as deep as those in Switzerland, where Panerai watches were produced.

The breakthrough for the company was an order for diving watches from the Italian Navy, for whom Panerai had been creating instruments of various types since the turn of the century. With a war coming on, the navy was keen to outfit its elite corps of frogmen with wristwatches.

Featuring a Rolex movement, the limited-edition Panerai Radiomir (only 300 were made) was designed for use by commandos and torpedo riders—frogmen who rode a slow-moving torpedo toward a target before attaching a timed mine to the underside of a ship and then riding away. The watches had a cushion-shaped case, a screw-down crown to keep water out of the movement, and oiled-leather straps that were long enough to be worn on the outside of a diving suit. Given their limited supply and the tough conditions they were subjected to, these watches are very highly prized by collectors today.

The watch took its name, Radiomir, from the luminous material that Panerai first developed in 1910. Made of zinc sulphide and radium bromide, Radiomir allowed the numbers and hands on a watch to be read in dark conditions. It was replaced in 1949 by Luminor, which glows thanks to the presence of tritium, a less-dangerous compound than radium bromide.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Panerai continued to produce wristwatches for the Italian Navy in regular and destro (left-handed) versions. Some watches from this period were known as Trittico watches, thanks to their trio of features, which included a depth gauge.

Panerai also made Kampfschwimmer watches, some with so-called California dials (numbers on the bottom, Roman numerals on the top), for Germany’s only postwar commando unit. And in 1956, Panerai created a large-face Radiomir watch for the Egyptian Navy.

Panerai might have remained a military diving watch in the minds of the public had it not been for Sylvester Stallone, who, in 1995, purchased a Luminor while on location in Italy. Sales of the watches jumped after its debut in Stallone’s “Daylight,” and Sly even had some watches—dubbed Slytech—made with his signature engraved on the back. These he gave as gifts to friends, including fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Panerai Pam 352 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanium Limited Of 500pcs!Rare Panerai 01 A Series Tritium T Dial Watch Full Kit W/ Hat Box And Serviced!Panerai Luminor Chronograph Pam 74 Zenith El Primero 40mm Automatic WatchWyler Wyler Code R Chronograph Automatic 2415/3999 (incaflex) Panerai, Rolex, Panerai Watch Wooden Box And Outer Cardboard BoxPanerai Luminor Automatic - Broken Crystal - DamagedRarely Worn Panerai Men's WatchPanerai Radiomir Pam 424 W/date And California Dial - Includes Box And Papers24/24 Gunny Brown Ammo Leather Panerai Brown Strap Ted Su 115/75 LuminorPanerai Black Alligator 22/20mm Leather StrapPam 241 Panerai Luminor Power Reserve With Rare "hobnail" DialRadiomir Panerai Black Seal Timepiece | Must See | 0002832 | Strap For Panerai, 24/24 Mm, Vintage Strap, Leather, Buckle, Brown, Watch,26,new26/22 Ted Su Panerai Crocodile Leather Strap Baby Back Black Gunny 105/6524/24 Gunny Black Canvas Noir Panerai Radiomir Strap Ted Su 115/75 LuminorRare Panerai Oem 22mm 2-screw Polished Stainless Steel Buckle Genuine A B Series26/26 K Straps Panerai Big Ridge Shark Leather Olive Back Gunny 120/70 Ted Su26/22 Bob Leather Panerai Burgundy Leather Strap Ted Su Crocodile Gunny 115/75Officine Panerai Watch BoxAuthentic Panerai Customer Service Travel Storage Black Case/zipped BoxPanerai Oem Genuine Authentic Brown Calf Leather KeychainPanerai Watch Straps.one Sting Ray,three LeatherOfficine Panerai Watch BoxGenuine Officine Panerai Tan Leather Strap 26mmOfficine Panerai Factory Antique Brown Crocodile Strap (brand New From Panerai)Panerai Radiomir Black Monte Carlo Short 25/20mm StrapPanerai Oem Vintage Strap 24/24mm No Reserve! Marina Pvd Submersible LimitedOem Panerai 22mm Tang/ Pin Buckle Brushed Stainless Steel Original LuminorOfficine Panerai Hardback Book - Great Read For Any Panerai Fan!more Panerai TooPanerai Luminor Gmt Pam 00088 Wrist Watch For MenBeautiful Black Aligator Panerai Strap And Double Folding Clasp To Fit All 44mm 24mm 1000m Helson Bund Cuff Leather Strap Handmade By Delaurian 44mm Panerai

Recent News: Panerai Watches

Source: Google News

Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback 44 mm: Top Chrono!
L'Express, February 8th

La montre Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback 44 mm de Panerai est le premier chronographe automatique de la marque italienne. Malgré leur petite taille, les montres -et à plus forte raison les chronographes- sont des instruments mécaniques dont la ...Read more

Panerai: Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic: SIHH 2016
Men's Journal, February 3rd

For the first time in the Radiomir 1940 collection, the dial of the 3 Days Automatic Acciaio (PAM0065) is offered in white — a rarity in the portfolio. The graphic design maximizes the dial's clarity and legibility, while the peach coloring added to...Read more

Luminor 8 Days set
World Tempus, January 29th

The new Luminor 8 Days Set – available in only 500 examples – contains two watches inspired by models created in the pre-Vendôme (between 1993, the year of the first collection made for the public, and 1997, when Panerai was acquired by Vendôme, part ...Read more

SIHH: Panerai — Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Power Reserve Automatic - 45mm
WorldTempus, January 21st

Deux nouveaux calibres automatiques, entièrement développés et fabriqués dans la Manufacture Panerai de Neuchâtel, ont doté de nouvelles fonctions la Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Automatic (PAM00627 et PAM00657), équipée du mouvement P.4001, ...Read more

Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Power Reserve Automatic - 45mm
World Tempus, January 21st

Two new automatic calibres, completely developed and made in the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, have added new functions to the Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Automatic (PAM00627 and PAM00657) with the P.4001 movement and the Radiomir 1940 3 ...Read more

SIHH 2016 Novelties From Officine Panerai
Haute Time, January 21st

Two new automatic calibres developed from the P.4000 movement: the P.4001 and P.4002, have added new functions with date, GMT and power reserve indicator. Only this last function differentiates the P.4001 calibre from the P.4002: while the first has...Read more

Panerai Luminor 8 Days Set Pays Tribute to Early Stallone Models
Watchtime.com, January 20th

Twenty years ago, Hollywood action hero Sylvester Stallone commissioned a pair of watches from then-obscure watch brand Officine Panerai, and neither the brand, nor the watch world at large, has been the same since. Panerai marks this milestone at SIHH ...Read more

SIHH 2016: Panerai Merge Timeless Design & Modern Technology
D'Marge, January 19th

D'Marge is reporting live from Geneva to bring you the latest releases from the world's premiere luxury watch exhibition, SIHH 2016. Taking a bold step in the right direction at this year's show is Panerai with a fresh take on their timeless and...Read more